Effects of prey escape ability, flow speed, and predator feeding mode on zooplankton capture by barnacles

G. Trager, Y. Achituv, A. Genin

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    52 Scopus citations


    Experimental studies of feeding on zooplankton often involve the use of non-evasive Artemia spp. to represent zooplanktonic prey. Some zooplankton, however, such as copepods, are potentially evasive due to possession of effective predator-avoidance mechanisms such as high-speed escape swimming. In the present study, we compared the efficiencies with which non-evasive (A. salina) and evasive (copepods) zooplankton were captured by a sessile, suspension feeder, the coral-inhabiting barnacle Nobia grandis (Crustacea, Cirripedia). N. grandis specimens and zooplankton used in the present study were collected near Eilat, Israel in 1993. The effect of different flow speeds (from 0 to 14 cm s-1) on captures of the two preys was also investigated. Additionally, we examined the effect of a flow-induced barnacle behavioral switch from active to passive suspension feeding, on zooplankton capture. Two video cameras were used to make close-up, three dimensional recordings of predator-prey encounters in a computer-controlled flow tank. Frame-by-frame video analysis revealed a highly significant difference (P< 0.001) in the efficiency with which A. salina and copepods were caught (A. salina being much more readily captured than copepods). After an encounter with cirri of feeding barnacles, copepods were usually able to swim out of the barnacles capture zone within one video frame (40 ms), by accelerating from a slow swimming speed (approximately 1.85 cm s-1) to a mean escape swimming speed of 18.11 cm s-1 (ca. 360 body lengths s-1). This was not the case for A. salina nauplii, which usually remained in contact with cirri before being transferred to the mouth and ingested. Thus, experimental studies addressing the methodology of organisms feeding on zooplankton should consider that slow-swimming prey like Artemia sp. nauplii may only represent the non-evasive fraction of natural mesozooplankton assemblages.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)251-259
    Number of pages9
    JournalMarine Biology
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Sep 1994


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